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Monday, June 4th, 2012 06:48 pm
Tomorrow (Tuesday, June 5) starting at about 6:04 Eastern time, the planet Venus will pass directly between the Earth and the Sun. This is a Rare Thing: the next time will be in 2117. There's been a lot of good science done using these transits in the past (like the first good estimates of the size of the solar system) and they still provide neat science opportunities today (like the plan to refine exoplanet detection by looking at the moon that I wrote about previously).

So look around locally for a chance to view the transit in person! Lots of observatories and planetariums and other groups will be organizing viewing events, which is probably your best bet. If you want to view it yourself, you can look at the official Transit of Venus site for some suggestions. (Don't look directly at the sun! Don't point an ordinary telescope at the sun!) Or look for some of the many webcasts out there: the Bad Astronomy site is planning what sounds like a good one, and there are others from NASA and other places. But you should really try to have a look: it won't look awe inspiring, but watching this sort of thing as it happens and thinking about the vast celestial objects in play can inspire great thoughts on astronomy and our place in the universe. Good stuff!